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1 Chronicles 23-26: Levite Duties

Original Publication Date
February 27, 2017
Updated
Oct 14, 2023 8:45 PM
Tags
1 ChroniclesChapter StudyLeviPriesthoodMusic
Bible References

1 Chronicles 23-26

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Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on February 27, 2017 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

The next few chapters of 1 Chronicles are devoted to the duties of the priesthood. Not only did David gather materials for building the Temple, he began preparing the Levites for the shifts that they would experience regarding worship. Once the Temple was set in Jerusalem, the Israelites would have a specific place of worship and enemies would have a specific location to attack. This would have a major effect on how the Levites were to carry out their duties. David sets up offices and divisions to carry out musical praise, guard duty, and more.

Number of Levites

Perhaps to remind the audience of who the Levites were, 1 Chronicles 23 gives the genealogy of the Levites, starting with Levi and his sons and followed by the descendants Merari, Kohath, and Gershon. We are reminded of important Levites, as well as, introduced to Levites that are given duties by David. Much of the genealogy can be found in Numbers and Exodus.

David's illegal census (1 Chronicles 21) allowed the number of Levites present in Israel to be counted, and we are told there were 38,000 men. Of these men, 24,000 were to perform the general work for God's House. 6,000 men were made officers and judges. 4,000 were assigned to be porters or guards, while another 4,000 were assigned to be musicians. Musicians were required to perform daily before the Ark.

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In Revelation 4 we are told that there are creatures (or angels) at the throne of God giving praise (it is unclear if this is through song or simple recitation).

Aaron's Sons

Aaron had 4 sons, but 2 of them died for committing sin in the holy place (of all places!). Thus, the priestly lineage spanned only from the two living sons: Eleazar and Ithamar. The legitimacy of these two lines led to the establishment of two high priests, Zadok and Ahimelech, because they both had rightful claim to the title.

We are told that Eleazar had more chief men in his lineage, and Ithamar only had half of that number. Due to this imbalance, David assigned lots and shifts at the tabernacle with sizeof the lineages as a consideration. The priests were assigned shifts to take up their duties at the Temple, based on the lots they were given.

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Upon reading this section it doesn’t seem important, but when studying the birth of Messiah, I stumbled across a theory that tries to use these duties to pinpoint when Zachariah (the father of John the Baptist) would have received his vision. This would allow us to guess the time of conception and thus birth of John the Baptist, which would allow us to calculate the time frame in which Messiah was born.

Musicians

Many Levites were assigned to provide music for theΒ Lord; this music was a form of praise. There are three families specifically placed in charge of the music: those of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. One family plays the harp (or something similarβ€”it's generally referred to as a psaltry),[1] another family plays the cymbals, and the final family plays the trumpet. This number of men assigned to this task is very large and shows the importance of music in worship.

Porters (Gatekeepers)

Chapter 26 gives details on the divisions of the porters or gatekeepers. These men were responsible for protecting the holy objects and kept guard at the gates leading to the Temple. Assignments were given by casting lots for which division would guard which gate. Most of the people assigned to guard the gate were from the Levite tribes of Merari and Kohath.

Other Duties

The Gershonites, on the other hand, were assigned to keep watch over the treasury. Another group of Levites was also assigned to administering the law and presiding as judges over the people.

References and Footnotes

  1. "Psaltery".Β BibleStudyTools.com; visited February 2017

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